When I was going to RISD, I went up to MIT in Cambridge one night to hear the great photographer Duane Michals speak. Duane talks really fast - and I recorded it all on a cheap cassette recorder. I spent the next week transcribing it all on a legal pad - which then became my bible (to this day!).
Every day I take pictures, Duane sits on my shoulder and whispers into my ear. He has been a huge inspiration and force in my life. Through the years I have had limited contact with Duane - openings, lectures, a workshop, bumping into each other on the street. He always asked me to call him - but I couldn’t do that.
A month ago I was planning a trip to NYC - and after all these years felt ready for my Duane moment. A friend organized lunch - which was really all too much - like a conversation I had been having with my imaginary Duane all these years - but in person. Duane invited me to his home the next day to show me his new work. NEW WORK!!! He is 85 years old and just lost his partner of over 50 years….and yet...Duane had 20 new short films to show me - plus his new book of portraits.
After having one of the most special days of my life I asked Duane to do a picture with me. I had this idea of putting our foreheads together - mostly so I could download everything in his amazing head! The interesting part was the full minute his assistant fumbled with my camera and we stood there head to head.
Something changed for me just then.
It was like Duane gave me special powers. My work in the past month has been on a totally different level. Less fear. More push. I am sitting here trying to figure out how to share it all. My photo teacher at RISD, Wendy Snyder MacNeil used to tell me every week, 'DON'T THINK! Just take pictures." Here are some of my favorites from the last week or two.